Contemporary Instrumental Improvisation I

Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Course Code
MUSC 1114
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course deals with the study and application of the rhythmic and harmonic language of jazz and related contemporary music, with a focus on solo improvisation.

Through class participation, students will develop technical and aural ability through the study of the blues, modes and selected II-V-I progressions.

Students may participate on either their primary or secondary instrument. Drummers will play either a mallet instrument (vibraphone) or percussion in addition to drums.

As this course is designed for the beginner or novice jazz soloist, no previous experience in jazz improvisation is required.
Course Content


  • The blues, II-V-I and modes
  • Using lead sheets
  • Playing a melody
  • Applying knowledge of the harmony
  • Assimilating jazz rhythms
  • Playing by ear
  • Improvising using limited resources
  • Developing a rhythmic flow
  • Phrasing in jazz
  • Understanding the importance of a musical vocabulary - "licks" and patterns
  • Organizing an improvised solo
  • Practicing techniques
  • Studying the masters
  • Transcribing a solo
  • Interacting in the group setting
  • Comping (improvised accompaniment for guitarists and pianists)
Methods Of Instruction


Means of Assessment

Class participation up to the mid-term: 15%

Class participation from the mid-term to the end of the course: 15%

Solo improvisation - tested at the end of the course: 30%

Written Exams (mid-term and final): 20%

Transcription projects (2 minimum): 20%

Total: 100%

Learning Outcomes

The successful student will be able to:

  1. Perform a basic solo in the blues style
  2. Read basic chord changes as found in the blues using either the blues scales or proper chord/scale combinations
  3. Demonstrate understanding of the basic blues forms (12-bar, 16-bar, minor, modal)
  4. Demonstrate understanding of selected blues melodies as studied in class



Textbook Materials

The instructor may assign a text book such as: Creative Jazz Improvisation by Scott Reeves (Prentice Hall), or A Guide to Jazz Improvisation by John la Porta (Berklee Press) – students will purchase the version that applies to their instrument.





Registration in one of the following MUSC courses: 1150, 1250, 2350, 2450, 1152, 1252, 2352, 2452, 1153, 1253, 2353, 2453



Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

Institution Transfer Details Effective Dates
There are no applicable transfer credits for this course.

Course Offerings

Fall 2021

There aren't any scheduled upcoming offerings for this course.